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Article – 3 Nightmares Before Christmas


Posted December 21, 2015 by

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3 Nightmares Before Christmas

Let’s be honest. There is a lot of horror that comes with the Christmas holidays; the pressure to buy the perfect gift (or just to buy gifts, period); the pressure to spend lots of time with LOTS of family members, a horror that only we introverts can fully comprehend; the pressure to be happy and full of good cheer even though the world is incredibly evil and full of bad…cheer?

So this article is going to dispel with all the fake goody goody nonsense and explore the darker aspects of the human spirit. Hopefully, we will come out on the other side of this dark tunnel article in a more hopeful and more Christmassy mood.

We begin with Thrill Kill, written and directed by Zach Shildwachter. Zach has worked on various films including Salt, the Academy Award nominated Rabbit Hole and the Sundance winning Sangre de mi Sangre. He has a background in prop fabrication, set building, Costume Design, and Special Effects Makeup. Thrill Kill begins with a fast car, a masked man and a lady covered in blood. Zach describes himself as “a fun & creepy guy that likes to make fun & creepy movies.”

Fun F-word Fact: within the first 2:15 minutes of the movie, the f-word – in its various, versatile forms – is uttered approximately 40 times. I never use the f-word but during the shocking turn of events at minute 2:36, I almost shouted it; and again at minute 3:00; and again at minute 5:12. Thrill Kill is a fuuuuuu-scinating short film guaranteed to scare the Christmas blues right out of you!

We move from titles with rhyming words to titles that use alliteration, but we stick with masks; and blood, as the title suggest. Banana Bike Bloodbath begins with a not-so-fast bicycle, a masked man and a homeless man asking for change. It is loosely based on real events that happened in Hamilton, Ontario.

Director Luke Meneok admits that while there have been times when he has had mixed feelings about Hamilton, it has been his home through good and bad. He wanted to express those sentiments in Banana Bike Bloodbath: “the good and the bad: the working class, the artists, the homeless beggars, the tattoos, the drug dealers, the attractive alt./punk babes, the rock n’ rollers, the prostitutes, the drinking and the smoking.” Luke is a big fan of old horror/exploitation/b-grade/trash/etc. cinema, so his goal for Banana Bike Bloodbath was to achieve the gritty, low-budget aesthetic of those vintage productions.

The masked man’s jacket is covered in horror movie patches. The punk girl’s dress features a print of Frankenstein’s monster. The masked man’s response to the homeless man’s polite and humble request for some spare change is very… unChristmassy. The only Christmassy thing about this short film is the weather (if white Christmases are your thing) and the Christmas lights at minute 3:45. Watch this short film only if you’re dreaming of a blood red Christmas.

If your Christmas spirit is already dead then “Dead Hearts” is the short film for you. It features a young mortician, taxidermy, Kung Fu and biker werewolves! Dead Hearts is a whimsical, gothic bedtime love story that was directed by award-wining writer and director, Stephen W. Martin. It has won the hearts of many judges and audience members, as testified by the numerous awards it has received in various film festivals. These include: award for best short film from the New York Horror Film Festival, the Crypt Show in Spain, The Nickel Film Festival, Sacramento Comic Con, Calargy Underground Film Festival and Phoenix International Film Festival. St. Louis International Film Festival awarded it the Best Live Action Short Film award (Oscar qualifying for the 2016 Academy Awards).

“Dead Hearts” is a wonderfully strange tale that, despite its macabre tone, still manages to be heartwarming. In this short film, the young mortician will give his heart away in order to find true love. Hmmm… this sounds familiar. It sounds like a certain story that has gotten lost in all the buying gifts and spending time and shallow good cheer. The story features a baby boy who grows up to give his life away in order to find his lost love…

It doesn’t matter whether you believe the Christmas story or not. What we all can agree on is that the holidays should be about giving. The masked men in “Thrill Kill” and “Banana Bike Bloodbath” were all about taking. During this holiday season and the New Year, we should all strive to take off our masks and give more of our hearts.

Hearty Holidays!


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Written by:


Mildred Achoch
Kenya Rock Film Festival Journal
Full Contributor

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